Hot off the heels of Dogrel, in a crowded UK Punk scene, Fontaines D.C. were wise to pounce off their luck-of-the-draw attention. A Hero's Death simultaneously avoids the sophomore curse by deflecting expectations with such a short turn-around. Though quality isn't as high as Dogrel, the style not changed in the least, Fontaines D.C. has reaffirmed their position as relevant, albeit largely nonessential, revivalists. It may be a haughty scorn, but it's true. Despite my enjoyment of A Hero's Death, especially 'Televised Mind,' 'I Was Not Born,' and 'No,' there's no denying the garden variety image of Fontaines. Especially whilst compared to their far more interesting contemporary Idles, and the gripping upstarts black midi and Black Country, New Road.
In terms of accessibility though, Fontaines D.C. has them all beat. Which, in turn, might prove their success as hopefuls walking in the wake of Landfill Indie. Grian Chatten's monotone drawl is, thankfully, offset by inquisitive lyrics containing both charming nonchalance and inspirational bravado. They're not as direct as, say, 'Roy's Tune' or 'Boys In The Better Land,' with Chatten thinking larger, more obtuse, while being less concerned with Irish squabbles. Though average on the whole, 'A Hero's Death' has some excellent motivational lyrics, as does personal favorite 'I Was Not Born,' with its rolling 90's-esque percussion. On the flip side, Chatten also shows an awareness to intimacy, depression, and the natural dilemma of humanity, as the bookended pair of 'I Don't Belong' and 'No' act as Fontaines D.C.'s two most grounded, disconsolate songs to date. The latter's subtle ray of hope isn't just gorgeous, it's necessary.
All in all, A Hero's Death doesn't quite reach the fervent rambunctiousness of Dogrel, but it's still a worthy successor that'll seal Fontaines D.C.'s position in the Post-Punk scene for at least half a decade. The jury's still out on whether Chatten, and the band, can carry themselves through slower movements, as their attempts on 'Oh Such A Spring' and 'Sunny' struggle to engage and entertain. Those two, plus the discordantly-clunky 'Lucid Dream,' are the worst A Hero's Death has to offer.